I want to ask, please, if it's good to take down the pants of a seven-year-old child for a spanking.


When disciplining a child, spanking is not the only option available to a parent. Often, when parenting is done well, spankings will only be needed infrequently. Raising a child well also involves teaching them what they ought to do. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). "And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). Child rearing also involves rebuking a child for things he does wrong. "Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul" (Proverbs 29:17). David's failure as a father is traced back to his lack of correction. "And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, "Why have you done so?"" (I Kings 1:6). The High Priest, Eli, was condemned for the same thing. "For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them" (I Samuel 3:13).

And yet, there is a role that spanking plays in the development of a child's character. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). Far too many parents fear using spankings because zealots cry out that it is child abuse. God tells us that when properly done, it causes no lasting harm. "Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:13-14).

What once was common knowledge has been lost in our society. More and more I find parents, unable to control their child, asking, "How do you spank a child?" The Bible speaks of using a "rod." The word means a slim branch from a bush or a tree. But how is it to be used? "Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding" (Proverbs 10:13). Hence, we learn that spanking is to take place on a person's backside (or bottom). It is also seen in "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool's back" (Proverbs 26:3). There is no requirement that the rod be used on the naked bottom, though effectiveness might require it.

When a child is very young, a light and quick flick on the back of the hand and a firm "No!" is often sufficient to let the child know that something for which they are reaching is not allowed. It might be more effective than a swat on the bottom since we diaper our children which makes swats on the bottom nearly unnoticeable. Then, too, small children live in the "now." By the time you remove a diaper to apply a swat, the child will have totally forgotten what offense has been done.

As a child gets older, using a small, smooth branch to swat the bottom is effective. It stings a bit and the startlement gets the message across. But as a child grows, you will eventually find that it takes more swats to deliver the same message. Boys tend to be especially prone to becoming tolerant of switching. Rather than wearing yourself out, some advocates of spanking recommend having the child drop their pants prior to the spanking. The sting of a rod increases dramatically when it is not delivered through a pair of denim blue jeans.

Need you take the pants down on your seven-year-old? That depends on the child's reaction to being spanked. If the behavior of the child is changed without it, why bother? If you feel you are wearing yourself out and there is little change in behavior, then it is probably about time.

October 6, 2007